2013 Pac-12 Football Simulated Preview From WhatIfSports.com image

2013 Pac-12 Football Simulated Preview

We simulate the Pac-12 football season

WhatIfSports.com
August 26, 2013

Using our college football simulation engine, WhatIfSports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create the 2013 Pac-12 Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of August 19th. What you see in the Pac-12 Predictions table is the most likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.

Pac-12 Predictions
NorthWLOverall Record
Oregon729-3
Oregon State548-4
Stanford547-5
Washington547-5
California365-7
Washington State365-7
SouthWLOverall Record
Arizona State638-4
USC548-5
UCLA547-5
Arizona547-5
Utah365-7
Colorado274-8

To hide the details, click here.

For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.


Oregon

Marcus Mariota

It's been a busy offseason at Oregon. On Jan. 16, former head coach Chip Kelly announced that he was leaving the Ducks for another bird, the Philadelphia Eagles. It marked the end of one of the great abridged tenures by a head coach in college football history. Under Kelly, Oregon went 46-7 since 2009, winning three conference titles and appearing in four straight BCS bowl games. But the coach didn't just win a ton of games, he helped transform a program into the kind of national phenomenon that inspired the media and the West Coast's top recruits to travel to the Pacific Northwest.

On June 26, Oregon finally learned its fate following a protracted NCAA investigation into recruiting violations. In the end, it was not so bad, a slap on the webbed-foot that would not prevent the Ducks from participating in a bowl game. In other words, it's business as usual for the new head coach, Mark Helfrich, and his kids.

Helfrich was hired for all of the obvious reasons—he's young, he's been on staff during the historical four-year run and he knows all of the intricacies that pertain to Oregon's signature spread-option offense. Helfrich will surely put his own touch on the Ducks, but he won't be asked to reinvent football at Autzen Stadium.

Oregon came so frustratingly close in 2012 to appearing in its second BCS National Championship Game in three years, suffering its only loss to Stanford in overtime on Nov. 17. The Ducks' consolation prize was a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, where they easily disposed of Kansas State. Back from that squad is enough of a core of talent on both sides of the ball to continue dreaming big in 2013. Second-year QB Marcus Mariota returns to pilot an offense that will again rank among the most explosive and fastest-scoring in the FBS. And the D, led by DE Taylor Hart and CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, will continue making the kinds of game-changing plays that too often go unnoticed.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Oregon Ducks
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Nicholls Colonels9556-7
2@Virginia Cavaliers7929-18
3Tennessee Volunteers6730-22
5California Golden Bears8329-17
6@Colorado Buffaloes9333-17
7@Washington Huskies7429-20
8Washington State Cougars8230-16
9UCLA Bruins7630-23
11@Stanford Cardinal6026-21
12Utah Utes7026-17
13@Arizona Wildcats7231-22
14Oregon State Beavers6329-24

Oregon State

Mike Riley

Oregon State has spent this offseason attempting to scrub the memory of its 2012 finish, while channeling the exploits of the team that started 6-0 and climbed as high No. 7 in the BCS rankings. The Beavers authored a very nice—and much-needed— rebound from the previous two seasons, when they went 8-16, to go 9-4. However, the ending left a sour taste in the mouth, including a fifth straight defeat to Civil War rival Oregon and a gut-wrenching Alamo Bowl loss to Texas.

The goal this season will be to build on 2012, maintaining—or even surpassing—the success that the team enjoyed last September and October. Head coach Mike Riley and his staff of underrated assistants believe they harbor the right mix of talent on both sides of the ball and on special teams to once again be bowl bound and a fly in the Pac-12 North ointment.

Riley is welcoming back 16 starters, a nice foundation on which to build. On offense, the only question on everyone's mind will be whether Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz gets the opening day start at quarterback. The veterans, both whom started games in 2012, were running dead-even as spring drills came to an end. The Beavers are talented everywhere else, with RB Storm Woods and WR Brandin Cooks emerging into playmakers, but the growth of the unit will be stunted if the quarterbacks are unable to perform at a higher level of consistency.

Coordinator Mark Banker piloted quite a turnaround on defense last fall, a microcosm for the stabilization of the program as a whole. He had stars at each level of the D, a luxury he's likely to enjoy this season as well. The Beavers will be stout on the perimeter with ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn and outside linebackers Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander. However, they could be vulnerable up the gut now that both defensive tackles and the middle linebacker have used up their eligibility.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Oregon State Beavers
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Eastern Washington Eagles9552-8
2Hawaii Rainbow Warriors8831-14
3@Utah Utes6825-19
4@San Diego State Aztecs7928-18
5Colorado Buffaloes8830-18
7@Washington State Cougars7227-18
8@California Golden Bears7227-21
9Stanford Cardinal3421-24
10USC Trojans4724-24
12@Arizona State Sun Devils4324-26
13Washington Huskies4926-26
14@Oregon Ducks3724-29

Stanford

Kevin Hogan

If Stanford was going to display cracks in the infrastructure, last year might have been the time to do it. Heck, young head coach David Shaw surely lived off the right arm of Andrew Luck in 2011, right? Uh-uh. In what might have been the most telling season in school history, the Cardinal won the Pac-12 to make a long-awaited return to the Rose Bowl … with a freshman quarterback filling the shoes of the top overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. It was a remarkable testament to the strength of Stanford's foundation, future and coaching staff.

Now that the rookie quarterback, Kevin Hogan, is, well, no longer a rookie, the Cardinal is looking to move further north in its evolution. Back-to-back Pac-12 championships? Or how about contending for a national championship, the program's first of any kind since the pre-WWII era?

Stanford, thanks in large part to the blueprint originally put in place by Jim Harbaugh, has found a formula for sustained success. Using an old-school approach, it goes from coast-to-coast to mine well-rounded student-athletes, and it builds from the inside out. Sure, Luck has been the recent face of the program, but it's been the linemen who've really made the offense go. And over on defense, the Cardinal's front seven during the recent run has been as assertive as any this side of Tuscaloosa.

In many ways, the Cardinal is beginning a new era in 2013; an era in which Top 25 finishes and BCS bowl contention are the norm. And why not? Stanford not only has as much talent, particularly in the trenches, as anyone in the league, but it has also located some welcome stability. The rising star coach is becoming a veteran. And the quarterback is no longer wide-eyed and wet behind the ears. The Cardinal is here to stay, and it's getting stronger with each passing successful campaign.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Stanford Cardinal
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
2San Jose State Spartans6226-22
3@Army Black Knights8731-15
4Arizona State Sun Devils4921-22
5@Washington State Cougars8225-16
6Washington Huskies5222-20
7@Utah Utes6624-18
8UCLA Bruins5123-22
9@Oregon State Beavers6524-21
11Oregon Ducks3921-26
12@USC Trojans4421-23
13California Golden Bears7324-16
14Notre Dame Fighting Irish4519-21

Washington

Bishop Sankey

The Huskies, which enter their fifth season under Steve Sarkisian, are pining for the kind of breakthrough moment that propels them out of mediocrity and into Pac-12 North contention. And they absolutely have the talent to get it done.

Sark and his assistants have methodically done an outstanding job in Seattle, even if the program has seemingly hit a wall in the standings. They've dramatically raised the overall talent level, endured the growing pains of young kids and incited the interest of an already passionate fan base.

Last season was a disappointment, with the upshot being that Washington employed a ton of underclassmen on both sides of the ball. Yet, it's a senior, not one of the many rising juniors, who holds the key to the Huskies success in 2013.

QB Keith Price suffered through an unexpected regression last year. It took about two weeks to realize that his grassroots Heisman push would never get out of the weeds. He just wasn't the same player who'd accounted for 36 touchdowns in the prior year, the result of poor decisions and even worse blocking.

However, there's reason to believe Price can swiftly rebound. He's proven in the past that he can lead an offense, and he's surrounded by some of the best skill position players in the conference. RB Bishop Sankey, WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins form as dynamic a trio as there is in the Pac-12. Now, if only the blockers can stay healthy and do their job, Washington might be downright unstoppable.

Fueling the excitement is the fact that the defense may be harboring as much talent as any point in the previous decade. Yeah, consistency has proven elusive, especially in marquee games, but coordinator Justin Wilcox was the architect of a remarkable turnaround in 2013.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Washington Huskies
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Boise State Broncos5324-22
3@Illinois Fighting Illini5824-20
4Idaho State Bengals9548-8
5Arizona Wildcats4925-26
6@Stanford Cardinal4820-22
7Oregon Ducks2520-29
8@Arizona State Sun Devils3822-26
9California Golden Bears5824-21
11Colorado Buffaloes7328-20
12@UCLA Bruins4624-26
13@Oregon State Beavers5126-26
14Washington State Cougars6324-20

California

Brendan Bigelow

After more than a decade, Jeff Tedford was forced to hang up his tool belt. Sonny Dykes has been hired to finish what his predecessor had built.

Tedford took Cal about as far as he could, failing in his attempt to recapture the momentum he'd created early in his tenure. In 2002, the coach inherited a team that went 1-10, and promptly guided it to eight consecutive winning seasons. Over the last three years, he hit a brick wall, going just 15-22, and sinking into Pac-12 obscurity. The fact that rival Stanford has been to three BCS bowl games in a row made the decision to release Tedford that much easier.

Enter Dykes, a Mike Leach disciple, who parlayed his last two seasons at Louisiana Tech into an enormous promotion at the age of 43. Not only did the Bulldogs go 17-8 since 2011, but the up-tempo, wide-open offense led the FBS last year with 52 points and 578 yards per game. The Bears are hoping to tap into the genius of a man who was able to briefly put a team from Ruston on the national scene last fall.

Cal is fresh off a brutal 3-9 campaign, in which it totally collapsed down the stretch. The encouraging news is that Tedford and his staff perennially did a commendable job of attracting quality recruits to Berkeley. The concern? The program is young, with not nearly enough firepower on either side of the ball to make an immediate splash in a deep Pac-12 North.

Dykes' attack will be fast-paced, employing a heavy dose of north-south running and play-action passing out of shotgun formations. The coach's top two priorities in the summer will be to anoint a starting quarterback to supplant Zach Maynard, and coach up a suspect O-line. Three young Bears have zero attempted passes between them, but the team only needs one to be just right by September. The inability to develop a franchise quarterback was central to Tedford's downfall.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 California Golden Bears
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Northwestern Wildcats3520-24
2Portland State Vikings9544-8
3Ohio State Buckeyes1919-28
5@Oregon Ducks1717-29
6Washington State Cougars5422-21
7@UCLA Bruins2919-25
8Oregon State Beavers2821-27
9@Washington Huskies4221-24
10Arizona Wildcats4122-26
11USC Trojans3521-27
12@Colorado Buffaloes5824-21
13@Stanford Cardinal2616-24

Washington State

Mike Leach

A decade in Lubbock gave proof that Mike Leach is a gifted coach. A year in Pullman revealed that he is not an illusionist.

There was justifiable reason for optimism associated with the arrival of Leach, the successful and controversial former head man at Texas Tech. But this is Washington State, a program eminently capable of humbling a coaching staff. The Cougars haven't bowled since 2003, and have dropped at least eight games in each of the last five years. So, last season's 3-9 mark may have disappointed some, but it shouldn't have surprised anyone.

The 2012 season at Wazzu was all about installing new systems, the Air Raid on offense and a 3-4 look on D, and firmly planting the roots of a new coaching philosophy. From that perspective, the Cougars achieved their goals, even if Leach questioned his team's heart at one point during an eight-game losing streak. Now that the learning curve, for both staff and player personnel, has gradually started to flatten, the school will turn its attention to executing better on Saturdays in the hopes of becoming more competitive in the Pac-12.

This is a Mike Leach production, so all eyes will be on the race at quarterback. The coach doesn't harbor one of his vintage Red Raider gunslingers, or at least yet. Junior Connor Halliday is the inconsistent veteran who'll be challenged by a pair of rookies, second-year Austin Apodaca and blue-chip newcomer Tyler Bruggman. Whoever gets the ball from the coach will delight in throwing to an up-and-coming corps of young receivers led by Gabe Marks and Dominique Williams.

While the Cougars won't win games with defense in 2013, the unit did improve under coordinator Mike Breske last season. They attacked from all angles to finish No. 11 nationally in sacks. Breske will once again turn loose his defenders, beating the bushes with a combination of S Deone Bucannon, linebackers Darryl Monroe and Cyrus Coen and tackles Xavier Cooper and Ioane Gauta.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Washington State Cougars
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Auburn Tigers5021-20
2@USC Trojans2921-30
3Southern Utah Thunderbirds9546-7
4Idaho Vandals8828-14
5Stanford Cardinal1716-25
6@California Golden Bears4621-22
7Oregon State Beavers2818-27
8@Oregon Ducks1816-30
10Arizona State Sun Devils2217-27
12@Arizona Wildcats3121-27
13Utah Utes5021-22
14@Washington Huskies3720-24

Arizona State

Taylor Kelly

A balanced offense will be spearheaded by one of the Pac-12's best backfields. At this time last year, the college resumes of QB Taylor Kelly and running backs Marion Grice and D.J. Foster were virtually blank sheets of paper. As the 2013 season approaches, though, each member of the trio is a proven versatile playmaker who'll be even better with a full season of snaps in the bank. Kelly does need more help this season, both from his receivers and his pass protectors.

The defense received a huge—and unexpected—break when All-American DT Will Sutton decided to forego the 2013 NFL Draft, and return to school. He presents major headaches for opposing linemen, and he's going to get a lot of help from the likes of hybrid ‘Devil' Carl Bradford, DT Jaxon Hood and ‘Spur' Chris Young. Arizona State will dictate the tempo of games with its speed and intensity. But sometimes, they're a little too aggressive for their own good, over pursuing plays, which results in gaping holes in run defense. The Devils have to be suffocating in more than just non-conference games in 2013, maintaining their tenacity in the face of some of the Pac-12's more potent offenses.

On paper, Todd Graham is the head of the best Arizona State squad since at least 2007. The players are determined to prove their potential on grass as well. The Pac-12 South is up for grabs in 2013. The Sun Devils and their second-year coach are poised to take advantage with a talented team that's ready to take the next step.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Arizona State Sun Devils
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
2Sacramento State Hornets9550-7
3Wisconsin Badgers6827-22
4@Stanford Cardinal5122-21
5USC Trojans6727-24
6Notre Dame Fighting Irish5523-22
7Colorado Buffaloes8429-18
8Washington Huskies6226-22
10@Washington State Cougars7827-17
11@Utah Utes7527-18
12Oregon State Beavers5726-24
13@UCLA Bruins5825-23
14Arizona Wildcats6528-23

USC

Marqise Lee

USC is not at a crossroad. Its head coach, though, is a very different story. Few coaches, if any, are staring at more pressure to turn things around than Lane Kiffin, the face of last season's second-half derailment. Kiffin, hailed for keeping the program on the rails in 2011, is in danger of squandering more of his job security if the Trojans even resemble the squad that went 1-5 down the stretch last fall.

Kiffin did in the offseason what most coaches do when the temperature starts rising, reshuffling his staff and changing coordinators. Clay Helton now leads the offense, but his promotion pales in comparison to the hiring of Clancy Pendergast to lead the beleaguered D. Pendergast has already been a breath of fresh air in Los Angeles, preaching a 5-2 defense that will attempt to attack from a multitude of different angles. USC has a chance to be very good in the front seven, led by all-league contenders Leonard Williams, George Uko, Morgan Breslin and Hayes Pullard. However, Pendergast's first-year grade might eventually hinge on a secondary that's feverishly working to develop stoppers at cornerback.

The main priority on offense for Helton and Kiffin will be to determine who out of three underclassmen replaces four-year starting QB Matt Barkley. It's a toss-up, though few doubt that sophomore Cody Kessler, a third-stringer in 2012, has had the best offseason so far. The heir apparent to Barkley will have the luxury of teaming up with college football's best wide receiver, Marqise Lee, veteran RB Silas Redd, a tight end tandem that would make Stanford jealous and four-fifths of last year's starting O-line.

USC is looking forward these days. Looking back to 2012 is a prescription for nightmares at Troy. The Trojans will continue to endure problems with depth, the byproduct of the NCAA-sanctioned reduction in scholarships. Even tougher, however, might be the fish bowl that the program—and its head coach—will be living in throughout 2013. Yeah, USC always grabs attention, but as Kiffin's margin for error narrows, the team is about to go even further under the microscope.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 USC Trojans
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Hawaii Rainbow Warriors9032-13
2Washington State Cougars7130-21
3Boston College Eagles7730-20
4Utah State Aggies5928-24
5@Arizona State Sun Devils3224-27
7Arizona Wildcats6728-22
8@Notre Dame Fighting Irish5021-23
9Utah Utes6526-21
10@Oregon State Beavers5324-24
11@California Golden Bears6527-21
12Stanford Cardinal5623-21
13@Colorado Buffaloes7930-19
14UCLA Bruins4726-27

UCLA

Brett Hundley

UCLA finished last year with three consecutive losses, providing a tangible reminder of the work that still needs to be done. It played very well against Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but was thoroughly outclassed in the Holiday Bowl by a Baylor team that was visibly bigger, stronger and faster. That 49-26 loss in San Diego provided the program with a checklist of what needs to be done in 2013 and beyond.

The Bruins have attacked the offseason the only way Mora knows how. They've worked diligently on the practice field, in the film room and in the classroom to become a better team in all phases. Anything less is grounds for a demotion by this staff. The team will begin the new season with promise—and holes that must be filled.

The offense has an emerging star at quarterback, Brett Hundley, and an exciting set of young receivers, yet it also must replace prolific RB Johnathan Franklin and shore up a middling line. The D is going to dominate from the front seven with DE Cassius Marsh and linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks, but the secondary is as green as the Rose Bowl sod.

UCLA went in an unconventional route last year when it hired a longtime NFL coach to lead it to higher ground. So far, the decision has clicked beyond even the most optimistic expectations. The Bruins are stronger than at any point in the last decade, carrying a head of steam and a wave of blue-chip recruits into the 2013 season. There's still a long way to go, but with Mora in charge, there's a quiet confidence, unfamiliar on this campus, that UCLA is going to get where it's going.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 UCLA Bruins
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Nevada Wolf Pack6931-23
3@Nebraska Cornhuskers4325-27
4New Mexico State Aggies8933-16
6@Utah Utes6125-21
7California Golden Bears7125-19
8@Stanford Cardinal4922-23
9@Oregon Ducks2423-30
10Colorado Buffaloes8529-18
11@Arizona Wildcats5728-26
12Washington Huskies5326-24
13Arizona State Sun Devils4223-25
14@USC Trojans5327-26

Arizona

Ka'Deem Carey

And they're off.

Arizona got off to a fast start in the debut of Rich Rodriguez on the sidelines, capping an 8-5 season with an exciting comeback win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl. It wasn't Pasadena, but it wasn't bad either, considering the school was coming off a 4-8 campaign, and wasn't exactly flush with ready-made talent.

Rodriguez and his staff have sufficiently laid the ground floor in Tucson, a foundation on which the future will be built. Patience, despite last year's flashes of prosperity, is still highly recommended. The excitement and optimism surrounding this program is real. So, too, is the dearth of talent compared to those schools seriously contending for Pac-12 championships.

The 2013 squad has one bona fide star, RB Ka'Deem Carey, and a whole lot of question marks on both sides of the ball. The offense, fueled by Rodriguez's run-heavy read-option, remains ahead of a D that was thoroughly overmatched last season. Yet, the Cats still need to replace Matt Scott at quarterback, mine a go-to receiver and solidify the interior of the line. Carey is a next-level back, but support may not be as consistent as it was in 2012.

Jeff Casteel's defense has to be stingier than it was last fall, when no Pac-12 team, not even Wazzu, was more generous. Hope comes from the returns of, well, just about everyone. However, the reality is that Arizona is going to need another recruiting class or two before it has the necessary depth and talent to have a chance against some of the better attacks in the league. The Cats could surprise up the middle, with Tevin Hood at nose tackle and Jake Fisher and Marquis Flowers at linebacker. All bets are off, though, if Casteel can't coach up one or two of his holdovers into an unruly pass rusher.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Arizona Wildcats
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Northern Arizona Lumberjacks9551-8
2@UNLV Rebels7729-20
3Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners6328-25
5@Washington Huskies5126-25
7@USC Trojans3222-28
8Utah Utes6128-22
9@Colorado Buffaloes8731-20
10@California Golden Bears5926-22
11UCLA Bruins4326-28
12Washington State Cougars6927-21
13Oregon Ducks2822-31
14@Arizona State Sun Devils3423-28

Utah

Kyle Whittingham

Although the Utes are not constructed to perennially go stride-for-stride with the likes of USC, Oregon and Stanford, the bar in Salt Lake City starts at qualifying for a bowl game. And for the first time since 2002, that did not happen in 2012. In fact, the Sept. 15 Holy War upset of BYU aside, Utah had very little to cheer about last fall.

Utah's recent struggles in the Pac-12 can be attributed to an offense that lacked consistency, especially at the quarterback position. Jordan Wynn was constantly hurt, which derailed any attempts at continuity. Enter a very new era on offense that'll feature sophomore Travis Wilson at quarterback and Dennis Erickson coordinating a more up-tempo spread offense. After finishing 105th nationally a year ago, the Utes are wisely seeking out a very new direction in an effort to ignite a stale attack.

The D can't be the same without three talented linemen, namely current Carolina Panther Star Lotulelei. Still, this program has earned a time-tested reputation for doing more with less on this side of the ball. DE Trevor Reilly, LB Brian Blechen and FS Eric Rowe are staples. And SS Tyron Morris-Edwards, DE Nate Orchard and DT Tenny Palepoi are going to benefit from bigger roles and more responsibility. The defense might take a step in reverse, but not so much that it becomes a liability.

Utah enters 2013 with a young franchise quarterback, an aging offensive coordinator and a firm edict to get back on track following its first losing season in a decade. Head coach Kyle Whittingham, one of the constants amid the changes, has been justifiably antsy this offseason, an expected reaction to his team's middling early performance as a member of the Pac-12.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Utah Utes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1Utah State Aggies4321-24
2Weber State Wildcats9545-8
3Oregon State Beavers3219-25
4@BYU Cougars4319-21
6UCLA Bruins3921-25
7Stanford Cardinal3418-24
8@Arizona Wildcats3822-28
9@USC Trojans3521-26
11Arizona State Sun Devils2418-27
12@Oregon Ducks3017-26
13@Washington State Cougars5022-21
14Colorado Buffaloes6925-19

Colorado

Christian Powell

New head coach Mike MacIntyre made a winner out of San Jose State. Anything is possible.

MacIntyre took command of one of the nation's worst programs in 2010, a team so bad that it was struggling to compete at the FBS level out of the WAC. Sound familiar, Buffs fans? Two years after arriving at a sure-fire dead end job, though, he'd guided the Spartans to their best season ever and a hard-to-fathom ranking in the final Top 25 poll. It was a textbook defying of the odds, which MacIntyre will now attempt to duplicate at Colorado.

The Buffaloes are bad—like worst team from a major conference bad. They haven't been over .500 since 2005, and last season's 1-11 mark represented a low-point in the annals of Colorado football. This school currently resides at rock bottom. And a new staff, with all of its new energy and fresh ideas, has been tasked with gradually getting the team back to a more competitive level. It'll be neither easy nor expeditious.

Dan Hawkins and Jon Embree did a number on Colorado's foundation, going 20-54 as the talent level on the field and fan interest at Folsom Field declined precipitously. MacIntyre has been hired to do more than just coach. He'll need to clean up a bunch of messes that were not his doing, and change the climate of losing permeating throughout the campus.

Success at Colorado will not be measured in the standings, at least not for a while. This is a team that was outscored by an average of four touchdowns a game last year. No, this summer and fall is all about installing new systems, learning personnel and changing approaches to the game. True freshmen started 57 games in 2012, tops in the FBS, so at least the new staff will be preaching to a young squad, much of which hasn't been spoiled by a decade's worth of futility.

- Richard Cirminiello, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2013 Colorado Buffaloes
WeekOpponentWin%Avg Score
1@Colorado State Rams4823-23
2Central Arkansas Bears9541-7
3Fresno State Bulldogs3021-28
5@Oregon State Beavers1218-30
6Oregon Ducks717-33
7@Arizona State Sun Devils1618-29
9Arizona Wildcats1320-31
10@UCLA Bruins1518-29
11@Washington Huskies2720-28
12California Golden Bears4221-24
13USC Trojans2119-30
14@Utah Utes3019-25

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Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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